Kimberly Tice: Early Childhood Educators Need Access to Child Care

Kimberly Tice: Early Childhood Educators Need Access to Child Care

Kimberly Tice is the Executive Director of the Ohio Association for the Education of Young Children (Ohio AEYC), the state affiliate of NAEYC, the largest and most respected professional association for early childhood educators in the country. Ohio AEYC explicitly represents over 2,000 members serving in all early childhood roles and settings while also supporting the entire early childhood profession across Ohio.

Devin Still, Care Advocate and former defensive end for the Cincinnati Bengals was recently asked to end a speech with some motivational words for caregivers and families. Devin stated that “Caregivers are tired of being asked to be motivated by words. They want to be motivated by actions.”

Research shows that high quality early childhood experiences set the stage for children to succeed in school and life. If we intend to deliver on the promise of early childhood education, our legislators need to act now. The American Rescue Plan Act funding is intended to provide immediate relief to struggling families and child care programs.

Increasing eligibility to 150% of the Federal Poverty Level is money well spent.

Everyone should have the opportunity to work hard and achieve economic security. Hard work should also be rewarded, but some policies are insufficient and inadvertently keep hard-working parents from climbing the economic ladder.

Almost half of early childhood educators themselves rely on some form of public assistance due to the lack of a living wage and benefits. In Ohio, the average hourly wage is $24.65, while early childhood educators earn only $10.67 per hour despite being identified as “heroes” and essential workers during the pandemic. In a recent conversation with child care center directors, one director shared (and others agreed) that she has an outstanding teacher who has consistently refused a raise because she would then lose child care assistance for her own young child. While most of us would never turn down a raise, the hourly increase would not be enough for her family to pay child care tuition, yet would be slightly too much to continue receiving publicly funded child care assistance. Increasing the eligibility level would allow these parent/educators and other working parents to take pride in earning an increase in compensation without fear of jeopardizing their family’s child care eligibility.

Increasing eligibility to 150% of the Federal Poverty Level is a two-generational support for both working parents and their children. Parents can work toward economic sufficiency while their children receive safe, enriching learning experiences. This is an essential and sensible investment in the children and families of Ohio!

Groundwork Ohio's budget blog series features stories from child care professionals, families, business leaders, and community members on why there's an urgent need in their communities to expand access to quality child care. In the state biennial budget, Ohio legislators have the opportunity to increase eligibility for the state's publicly funded child care program from 130% of the Federal Poverty Level to 150% of the Federal Poverty Level. Read ourchild care budget fact sheetto learn more about why there is an urgent need to increase access to quality child care. Take action today by contacting your Senator urging their support for expanding eligibility byclicking here.